Eliminate distractions for safe summer travels


The safety of the traveling public is the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) number one priority. With summer travel ongoing, there will be more vehicles on the road.

“We live in a very connected world, and distractions hit all of us regardless of where we go,” said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. “However, the one place you cannot afford to be distracted is when you’re behind the wheel.”

When behind the wheel, everyone's primary responsibility is driving the vehicle. Talking or texting on a cell phone, changing radio stations – anything that takes eyes off the road – is a distraction. Drivers talking or texting can miss up to 50 percent of their driving environment, a phenomenon known as “inattention blindness.”

Sending or receiving a text message takes a driver’s eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds – the equivalent of traveling, at 55 miles per hour, the entire length of a football field, blind.

“Statistics show that drivers who use handheld devices are four times more likely to get into a serious crash,” McGrath said. “Additionally, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.”

Manual distractions, those that take a driver’s hands from the wheel, are the most common. However, they are not the only form of distractions. Visual distractions are things that take a driver’s eyes off the road, while cognitive distractions are those things that take a driver’s mind off the task of driving.

“Driving distractions come in all forms,” McGrath said.  “Avoiding these distractions is key to making your road trip safe for your passengers and others traveling Mississippi’s highways this summer.”

Eliminating distractions while driving is one way motorists may achieve the best driving behavior this summer. MDOT offers these safe driving tips.

Avoid speeding, especially through work zones

Always buckle up

Don’t drink and drive, or ride with someone who has been drinking

Share the road- you aren’t the only one out there, watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, children and animals

MDOT wants everyone to arrive at their vacation destination safely, and offers three free travel resources – MDOTtraffic.com, MDOT Traffic app and Mississippi 511 – to help navigate a safe trip.

MDOTtraffic.com not only gives you the most current travel and traffic conditions, but also shows the locations of rest areas and welcome centers in Mississippi. You can use MDOTtraffic.com to avoid construction zones and traffic delays.

The MDOT Traffic app is available free on the App Store and Google Play store, and serves as a companion to MDOTtraffic.com. The app also offers access to real-time traffic information and cameras across the state and will synchronize with your account on MDOTtraffic.com. This is a perfect tool to use at rest areas while traveling.

Mississippi 511 can also be used to check road conditions and get other important travel information. You can get specific road information by simply saying the name of the road, city, county or region.  The 511 system even allows travelers to report traffic conditions if they have not been already reported.

For additional summer travel tips or other travel related information, visit MDOTtraffic.com or like and follow @MississippiDOT on Facebook and Twitter.